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[380] that way for the advance of the National forces, and form a connection with Heintzelman's corps.

Hooker was sorely pressed. The Confederates were heavily massed in front of Patterson and his supports. At half-past 11 o'clock he sent a note to Heintzelman, asking immediate assistance. That officer was absent, and Hooker was obliged to fight on unaided. At one o'clock the l battle had assumed gigantic proportions, and Hooker's last regiments (Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth New York) had been sent into the fight. He was losing heavily and making no apparent head-way, for as the conflict progressed fresh Confederate troops under Pickett, Gholson, Pryor, and others hastened back from the direction — of the Chickahominy to assist their struggling comrades, until a large portion of Johnston's army in that region were in the conflict. Three times the Confederates had made fierce charges on Hooker's center, with the hope of breaking his line, but were repulsed, and as

Excelsior brigade.

often the places of the defeated ones were filled with fresh troops. Once a dash was made from the direction of Fort Magruder, which resulted in the capture of five of Weber's guns, and between two hundred and three hundred prisoners.

For almost nine consecutive hours Hooker's division fought the foe unaided,1 excepting by the brigade of General J. J. Peck, of Couch's division, which arrived on the field early in the afternoon, and was posted on Hooker's right. There it acted as a continually repelling foil to the attacks of the Confederates, until near night, when it was relieved by two other of Couch's brigades. Finally the ammunition of some of Hooker's regiments, and also of the artillery, began to fail,2 and no supply train had yet come up. The rain had made much of the road between Yorktown and Williamsburg an almost impassable slough, through which, and over the little wooded hills, whose trees the fugitives had cast in the way, and across miry ravines coursed by swollen brooks, cannon and wagons had to be dragged with almost a snail's pace. Hooker had called repeatedly on Sumner for help, but could get none, for that officer had ordered a large portion of the troops in hand to the right, under Hancock, to keep the Confederates in check in that direction, and to flank the works if possible.3 So he fought on, maintaining his ground until between four and five o'clock, when the gallant and dashing Philip Kearney came up with his division, with orders

1 Hooker found it impossible to use cavalry to advantage, and he was compelled to decline the proffered services of Brigadier-general Emory, and of Colonel Averill of the Third Pennsylvania cavalry, excepting for reconnoitering purposes. To Averill, and Lieutenant McAlister of the Engineers, Hooker publicly expressed his thanks; the latter having carefully reconnoitered such of the Confederate works as were concealed from view.

2 Some of the shattered regiments were supplied with ammunition for a time only from the cartridge-boxes of their fallen comrades on the field.

3 “ History will not be believed,” said Hooker, in his report of the battle (May 10, 1862), “when it is told that my division were permitted to carry on this unequal struggle from morning until night unaided, in the presence of more than 80,000 of their comrades with arms in their hands. Nevertheless it is true.”

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